Friday, 8 March 2013

Gilmorehill Campus Vision - Stage 1 Consultation

This is a significant moment in the development of the University of Glasgow. I am very glad that there is an opportunity to contribute to the campus vision through an initial consultation which concluded today. The University of Glasgow's efforts to gather views by engaging a wide range of stakeholders and reaching out to consult the diverse communities across the West End is very much welcomed. My responses to the questions are detailed as follows:-

1) What do you think are the essential campus facilities that it should provide to achieve these goals?

The campus has to provide world class research labs and access to technologies which are the most advanced available. This is a requirement to secure the most talented staff and students as well as support from funding bodies or private donor.
In the past weeks, the levels of child poverty, fuel poverty, cancer, heart disease, stroke and obesity have been at the forefront of my day to day discussions. It would be necessary for the facilities to continue to explore the causes of poor health and find long term solutions through world renouned research work. 

I hear from the Stroke Association that the research into Stroke is much less than other major diseases and there is a urgent need to address this gap. Help is required to take forward research in to life after stroke, gaining insight in to solutions to support recovery and self management. 

There are ongoing concerns about air pollution and links between air quality and  chronic ill health or  lung diseases. Research into this particular health issue could be developed at the campus. The facilities are located within an air pollution hotspot and designated Air Quality Management Area. There is an opportunity for the design to contribute to reducing traffic in the area and supporting air quality actions e.g. cycling, electric vehicle or hybrid fleet, car club,  tree planting, public transport usage.  

It should promote environmental sustainability including energy efficiency, zero waste, cuts to carbon footprint and renewable energy technology within its design and research capacity.
The overall facilities have to respect the historic context and architectural features of the site and its curtilage. The boundary walls and outward aspect as well as materials, colours and general appearance should be recognised as of utmost importance in the site's identity and sense of place. They create the basis for framing the site facilities and taking forward a proposal that fit within the wider setting of Glasgow West Conservation Area.

2) What do you think the University should do to be more welcoming and provide a feeling of openness?

The design of the campus has to provide physical connectedness and good sightlines, especially from Byres Road, University Avenue, and Dumbarton Road. This could be established by walking routes, avenues of trees, public grassland and seating with cafe facilities available. Public art installations and good quality signage can enhance public perception. 

Community use of the facilities is key to promoting a welcoming space. Full genuine public engagement through the design process can support this sense of openness.

View of the University from the River Kelvin.

3) Is the open space in and around the campus important to your experience? What are the qualities and character that enhance your experience of the campus?

The open space and a green landscape must be an integral part  of the design. There is recent research which indicates that walking among trees, flowers and engaging with the earth is very important for well being. Gardens engender a feeling of care and awareness that hard landscaping does not. An understanding of how the natural world functions is becoming a important research topic in the arts, sciences and medical field. A rich, diverse landscape on campus would contribute to health and creativity, providing areas for people to meet informally or just relax.As well as formal spaces and quiet sitting areas, there should be small garden corners for wildlife, wildflowers and biodiversity which the students can work with the staff to learn about the natural world. 

An allotment with minimum of 25 community plots would bring together people from different backgrounds in a common purpose and help to strengthen the ties and understanding between the local people and the University. There is currently a lack of allotments in Hillhead and this use of the space would meet a key community demand.

4) How should the University be connected with other parts of Glasgow and other University campus?

The environment sustainability agenda and climate change targets require a dramatic reduction on CO2 in the next 10 years. The campus has to promote integrated travel using walking, cycling, and public transport to get around. Car use has to be discouraged to tackle air pollution and reduce the carbon footprint. The campus can promote use of subway stations and main rail connection at Partick as the preferred options. Other parts of Glasgow are most quickly reached by subway and train. University Avenue could prioritise pedestrians with single roadway for taxi and bus access only through this route. This can ensure a modal shift away from the car. It will ensure increased personal safety, lessen risk of accidents, reduce noise levels and promote accessibility using modes which are healthier and more energy efficient.

5) What in your view is the one thing we should do to make sure that we leave as great a legacy as the previous strategic move in 1870?

The campus has to promote a holistic view of health and wellbeing, celebrate the talents of women and more disadvantaged groups, ensure peace and harmony in the world, and encourage resourcefulness. It has to support engagement of families as well as older learners. Women and children's safety issues have to be paramount and focus has to be on a legacy that prioritises their interests. The campus has to have a legacy which ensures a more equal and just society, moving on from a  world of ivory towers which dominated in the 1870s.

6) What campus or estate issues are important to you?
  • Safe cycling and walking routes with cycle racks, showers and lockers.
  • Energy efficient heating from renewable sources and well maintained street lighting.
  • Composting, recycling and litter bins. Good quality greenspace including wildlife garden,  orchards of fruit trees, allotments, raised planters and avenues of trees.
  • Good quality toilets and cafe facilities. A good stationery shop and exhibition space.
  • Heritage features are retained and cared for.
  • Mackintosh house and furniture plus artworks are publicly available and well maintained.
  • Accessible pharmacy, GP and advice clinic.
  • Support provided for music, fairs and charity events within the campus. Student meeting spaces for campaigning, debating and sharing interests including sports, political protest and demonstrations.
  • Staff meeting spaces with access to advice services.
I look forward to contributing to further discussions as the vision and plans for the site take shape in the year ahead.

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